[Picture: LCol Omer Lavoie, CO 1RCR, speaks at The London Club, describing the actions of his Battalion at the battle of Panjwaii]
The Battle of Panjwaii was a battle fought during two periods in the summer of 2006, primarily involving Canadian and Afghan soldiers being supported with some small elements of the Dutch, American, and British forces. There were two separate times in which the forces were involved in heavy fighting in the region. The first phase was fought in July of 2006, and the second encounter lasted from September to October 2006. The two battles are also called Operation Zahara and Operation Medusa.
In mid July of 2006, Canadian and Afghan forces involved in Operation Mountain Thrust came into the Panjwaii area to help clear the area of Taliban strongholds. On July 12 heavy fighting broke out in the mud wall complexes where Taliban forces decided to dig in and fight for control of this area of Panjwaii. Canadian and Afghan forces on the offensive quickly gained control of the battlefield while heavy fighting was still ongoing.
After the fighting in July, Canadian and Afghan forces left the Panjwaii region and it once again became a Taliban stronghold and a thorn in the side of Canadian forces in Kandahar province when the Taliban consequently poured back into the deserted district. The beginning of September saw the beginning of much more intense fighting in the Panjwaii region again. And once again it was Canadians spearheading the Operation.
For the next few weeks there was heavy fighting on a daily basis and the Taliban who had begun fighting the battle in a conventional way of trenches started to retreat from the battlefield. Canadian forces then faced sporadic resistance until the Panjwaii was finally taken under Canadian control. But casualties did not stop there. Reconstruction efforts began immediately and small cells of Taliban fighters returned to their deadly tactics of suicide and roadside bombings.